Nonconscious goal pursuit: Isolated incidents or adaptive self-regulatory tool?


Journal Article

Models of nonconscious goal pursuit propose that goals can be activated and pursued without conscious awareness and intent. Until recently, these models have been relatively silent about whether or not nonconscious goal pursuit has consequences and what these consequences might be. We propose that nonconscious goal pursuit is part of a rich self-regulatory system in which goal progress (or a lack thereof) can influence self-enhancement and produce different consequences than conscious goal pursuit. We attribute the effect of nonconscious goal pursuit on self-enhancement to "mystery moods" (Chartrand & Bargh, 2002). Three experiments support these propositions. Self-enhancement was exacerbated following nonconscious goal failure compared to both conscious goal failure (Experiments 1-2) and no goal failure (Experiments 1-3). Evidence that negative "mystery moods" were the mechanism through which nonconscious goal failure affected self-enhancement was obtained by reducing mood mysteriousness, which attenuated self-enhancement (Experiments 2-3). Implications for research on nonconscious goal pursuit and self-enhancement are discussed.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Chartrand, TL; Cheng, CM; Dalton, AN; Tesser, A

Published Date

  • October 1, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 28 / 5

Start / End Page

  • 569 - 588

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0278-016X

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1521/soco.2010.28.5.569

Citation Source

  • Scopus